Will Ashford is an investigator of words – in his own words, he “rescues, salvages, and recycles other peoples’ words” to make new works of art. We had the pleasure of talking to Will about his background and his creative relationship to libraries. Enjoy! ~ Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your creative work?

Will Ashford (WA): I am a native Californian having spent a lifetime creating art, much of it in public places.  My word-based projects have appeared in international magazines, books, art galleries, museums, Network television news and along hillsides across the country and around the world.

LAIP: Your work is obviously incredibly tied to literature and books – in fact it is born from books. Can you tell us what it is that draws you to explore and rework the printed page in this way?

WA: The power of words has always been a mystery for me.  As a child (to everyone’s annoyance) I had a habit of changing a word’s pronunciation and then creating new definitions to match. At the time, it was just an annoying little game but evolved into a routine that eventually found its way into my art.

For the past few years I have been experimenting with creating new art out of recycling other people’s words.

LAIP: What is your creative relationship to libraries, if any?

WA: From an early age reading was a painful, slow and sometimes embarrassing experience. Yet, I loved/love libraries.  I can always be found in the reference section looking for facts and figures that most people care less about. It’s amazing how much of that stuff I retain.  I especially like to go methodically through the many atlases, something I’ve done from an early age.

Click here to view one of Will’s animation projects.

LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library look or be like?

WA: Having never been asked this question, it took me a moment before I found the answer hiding somewhere between my ego and the truth.

As an artist, my ideal library would consist of two large shelves of books:

-The top shelf would be full of old, tattered and discarded books on Philosophy, Psychology, Physiology, Science and Art.

-The bottom shelf would contain books about the art I created from the pages in the books on the top shelf.

Explore more of Will’s work by visiting his website, willashford.com

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